The Awesome Leader Blog

I write about anything that can help leaders gain a snappy, specific set of skills for managing up and managing teams.

Leaders Putting on their Leader Hosen (not a typo)

leaderhosen Apr 09, 2020

Hello everyone,

This is not a story filled with tips to help you work more effectively at home. 

Instead, it's a story about what I call Leader Hosen.

Yes, Leader Hosen.

This is a story about the leaders all around you, each day. People with big names and jobs—people you've probably read about recently or listened to over the last few weeks. It's also a story about people you don't know, names you maybe never would have recognized before this pandemic hit us.

So, settle down into the couch or straighten up into that crappy office chair in your guest bedroom (it's so bad that it should be put on the street with a "FREE" sign, right?). And then let me know the people who come to mind after you read my story.

Over the past few weeks, I've been switching back and forth between reading the news and ignoring it. Going from, "Holy $#@%! We're doomed!" to "It's going to be just fine. Let's eat...


5 Tips to Ask for Help at Work--NOW

career help working Apr 08, 2020

There is one question, no matter who asks it and in what context, that is almost always initially answered with a, “No”. 

Do you know what that question is? 

It’s, “Do you need help?” 

Our first instinct when answering this question is always, “No.” 

We say to ourselves, “Do I need help?! Of course not!”

But - maybe. Maybe I do. 

You probably do need help with something. 

 For some of us, admitting that we need help is akin to admitting we can’t do something, which we see as basically failing. But that’s not the case.  

Asking for help, or even just admitting that you need help, isn’t failure. It’s far from it.  

Asking for help is something many of us equate to weakness or lack of ability. We think to ourselves, “If I ask my manager for help, she will begin to think I’m not capable. The economy is in a bad state and who knows if...


Managing Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry

Uncategorized Mar 24, 2020

No one likes to apologize. I mean… by definition, you’re only apologizing if you were in the wrong. And no one likes to be wrong. No one likes to make a mistake. It’s not fun. It’s humbling. And it makes us uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, saying you're sorry is a fairly consistent part of life. You have to do it all the time -  in your professional life and in your personal life, so you might as well accept that and get good at it now.  

No one likes to apologize because—big surprise—no one likes to be wrong or make a mistake.

But saying sorry, especially as a manager, is necessary to build and foster trust. Don’t avoid doing it. Instead--keep reading for tips on how to make it as painless as possible while also making it authentic.

It’s a fact that we all make mistakes. However, not everyone says they’re sorry. Some people just can’t bring themselves to admit it when they get something wrong. Don’t be...


Managing Poor Performers

managing motivation Feb 18, 2020

Some of the leaders I work with remind me of tortoises when it comes to the poor performance of some of their team members: they hide from the reality of it and when they FINALLY emerge from their shells to see what's going on (ugh), they are slow to address it. And I get it. Who wants to have those conversations? No one wants to be the one to tell an employee that they’re doing a bad job or not pulling their own weight. 

However, you don't have a choice. As the manager, one of your main jobs is to keep your team running smoothly. And when one team member isn’t pulling their weight, or is consistently doing their work incorrectly, causing the rest of the team to pick up the slack or constantly go behind them fixing their mistakes, you’re going to have a team that’s dispirited, frustrated, and increasingly fractured. You have to stop this behavior as soon as you see it. It won’t correct itself, and it’s very likely that once an employee has...


Stop Relying on Luck for Leadership

Uncategorized Jan 22, 2020

I wish it were this easy for leaders: Fortune Teller Fish

As a kid in San Francisco, I traveled in a pack with other kids on my street, exploring our neighborhood and the ones surrounding it: Noe Valley, the Castro, and the Mission. Seeing where fortune took us.

A regular journey was hiking over the hill from 20th and Sanchez where we lived to 24th Street where we could get a bagel or a donut or a comic book or a cheap toy. 

My weekly allowance was 25 cents, and one of my favorite stores was Cathexis, where cheap and fun knick-knacks filled the shelves. One of them was the Fortune Teller Fish.


A semi-transparent piece of red plastic in the form of a fish, it twisted and turned when you placed it in your palm, telling you your fortune (remember, I'm a kid in this story). 

If it moved its head, you were jealous. If it turned over, you were false (a liar).

You didn't want it to move its head and tail because if it did, you were in love, and...


How to Have a Heart-to-Heart Conversation

eq peers workplace Oct 08, 2019

Do you have an employee or a peer who is in pain and needs some very honest advice? 

In your battle-scarred life as a leader, knowing when and how to have a heart-to heart-talk is critical to your success and to help your employees stay focused and engaged. 

However, having an effective heart-to-heart conversation is not something most companies provide on the job training for. And, who wants to prepare to have a heart-to-heart? No one.

Instead, we usually learn how to have them through trial and error, often making mistakes along the way. 

In my work coaching leaders, I see that knowing how to have these intimate and oftentimes intense conversations is a necessary skill. 

So, I’m going to show you a straightforward, foolproof way to cut to the chase so both you and your employees come out ahead in such conversations. 

First, let’s talk about what we mean by a “heart-to-heart” conversation. 

I define a heart-to-heart conversation...


Clashing Personalities at Work

eq personalities workplace Oct 01, 2019

We’ve all been there: dealing with the one person at work we just can’t get along with. No matter what we do and say, things don’t get easier. This person just seems different in every way from you. Their personality, wow, you simply don’t get them, and they probably don’t get you either. 

If you don’t work directly together or interact often, it’s not a big deal. So as long as you avoid each other, you can usually keep the peace fairly easily. 

But what about when that’s not an option? What about when it’s someone you do work directly with—such as a peer? 

You need to deal with it. And that doesn’t mean planting seeds in that person’s head for a possible transfer or forwarding their LinkedIn profile to recruiters at other companies.  

Depending on how overt these battles are, they can quickly drag everyone’s productivity—yours, your peers, and the team you are both part...


Delegate Now to Save Time Later

Having a team to support you is an incredible opportunity, and you need to take advantage of the talents of your direct reports. Delegating—taking things off your plate and handing them off to others—is key to team, company, and individual success.

You get that. You know that part of your job is to hand tasks off to our team. So, it should be smooth sailing for us for the rest of your career. Just take those boring tasks that no one wants to do and hand them off to someone else. 

Ahh, if only it were that easy. What no one tells you when you get promoted is that delegation is much harder than you think it’s going to be. 

Why is it so hard to delegate appropriately? Here is my short answer: you head and heart make it hard to delegate. You think too much about what others will think when you delegate.

Stop worrying about delegation and just do it. Keep reading for some tips on how to choose what to delegate and how to do it effectively. 




Managing Negativity: What to Do with the Complainer

behavior eq managing Sep 17, 2019

As a manager, a huge part of your job is to work with all kinds of people, with all kinds of temperaments. An amazing manager is able to recognize and use the strengths of each employee, finding a way to make the varying skills and personalities that make up their team work in harmony. It feels right. It sounds right. Yet just like the wrong note played in a song can create dissonance, so too can having to manage an employee who seems to only bring negativity to work with them. 

I’m sure you’ve encountered this type of person in your time as a manager: the naysayer, the person who shoots down every idea, the one who pushes back on everything asked of them. They complain about most everything and everyone. 

This kind of behavior is much more than annoying. It’s obstructive and depleting to everyone who shares the environment. And maybe even more: it can be infectious, like the flu running wild through each team. It lowers the morale of an entire team and...


Say One Thing and Do Another: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive Employees

behavior eq workplace Sep 10, 2019

Have you seen this behavior in your workplace recently? 

  • The silent treatment. Someone hiding resentment by saying nothing about their true feelings or emitting just a few snide comments.
  • A coworker who says one thing, such as, “I’ll take care of that” but in reality does something completely different, like ignore your request
  • Someone sullenly completing tasks she has agreed to execute but complaining the whole time. 

These are perfect examples of passive-aggressive behavior. 

It’s maddening, underhanded, sneaky behavior.

I don’t think passive-aggressive behavior has a place in any work environment, but I see it all the time. We’ve all grown up, supposedly, but we hang on to childish behaviors we honed on the playground. 

Why do people act this way? 

The majority of people who exhibit passive-aggressive behavior have a negative reaction to something--a topic, a task, a person, something. They don’t like something....

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